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Authors: Patricia Collins Wrede

Caught in Crystal: A Lyra Novel

BOOK: Caught in Crystal: A Lyra Novel

A Lyra Novel
Patricia C. Wrede

For my parents, especially my mother, who taught me to love books.


Introduction to the Lyra Series


PART I: Hearth and Sword











INTERLUDE: Kith Alunel

PART II: Sisterhood of Stars











INTERLUDE: Gadeiron’s Crystal

PART III: The Twisted Tower












A Biography of Patricia C. Wrede

Introduction to the Lyra Series

partly because it was the first imaginary world I created for my novels and partly because it includes the first two novels I ever wrote,
Shadow Magic
Daughter of Witches.
I learned an enormous amount from writing those books.

I also learned a great deal from running
Daughter of Witches
through my very first critique group, the Scribblies. I was several chapters into the first draft when we started the group in 1980, so it was the first thing I submitted for comment, a chapter or two at a time.
Shadow Magic
had already been under submission to publishers for nearly two years. When it finally sold, I did run some of the revisions through the group, but I didn’t make any of the more drastic changes people suggested. I worried that I might turn the book into something the editor wouldn’t like; after all, she’d bought its original version. So I concentrated on the parts where the editor herself had requested changes (there were plenty) and left everything else pretty much alone.

Daughter of Witches
was my first attempt at writing a single-character, tight third-person viewpoint, and I cussed my way through large portions of it as I tried to figure out how to get crucial information across to the reader when the viewpoint character wasn’t around for those scenes. By the time I finished it, I was more or less comfortable writing a tight viewpoint, and from then on it became very nearly my default.

I also chose to make
Daughter of Witches
an indirect sequel to
Shadow Magic
—that is, rather than continuing the adventures of the same set of characters, or even using a different set of people in the same region, I picked people who lived several thousand miles away, for whom the events that took place in
Shadow Magic
were, at most, distant and relatively unimportant or unrelated problems. I did this for three reasons. As a writer, I wanted to remind people that a world is an enormous place, especially when there aren’t phones or radios or TVs to quickly spread news and information. I also wanted to explore some themes and background events that just didn’t fit in the book I’d already written. A third, practical reason was that I’d started writing
Daughter of Witches
a good six months before
Shadow Magic
sold, and I had no guarantee that my first book would ever sell. I figured that nobody starts by buying Book #2 of a series, if Book #2 depends heavily on Book #1. But if I made my second book a related stand-alone, something that shared the background and world-building, but that didn’t actually
the first book to make sense, then even if
Shadow Magic
never sold, I could still market
Daughter of Witches
on its own.

Fortunately, Ace Books bought both titles, and was interested in more.
The Harp of Imach Thyssel
was my fifth book, and again, it was an indirect sequel, which set the pattern for the series. It was also the book that finally pushed me into quitting my day job to write fulltime. It was my first (and rather timid) experiment in writing multiple viewpoints—timid, because I didn’t quite have the nerve to do the kind of large, complex, braided storylines that really
a multiple-viewpoint structure. I ended up doing something more like a central storyline with sidebars, which worked well for the book, I think, but didn’t quite stretch me as a writer as I’d intended.

Next came
Caught in Crystal
, in which I tried to dig deeper into my main character and use flashback scenes for the first time. After the book was published, many readers asked if I’d actually written two novels and then cannibalized the first one for the flashback story in the second, so I guess the flashbacks were pretty convincing! The answer is no. I wrote
Caught in Crystal
as its own narrative; I hadn’t even used an earlier short story. The flashback sequences were written in order, as they came up during the present-day story. (“Present day” for this book was set roughly a thousand years prior to that of the first three Lyra titles, continuing the pattern of an indirect sequel.)

The last of the Lyra books (so far) is
The Raven Ring
, written over fifteen years ago. It fills in a little of the history between
Caught in Crystal
and the three other titles. I was trying to work from a careful outline, but I failed miserably; the story went off the rails in Chapter 7, when the main characters were attacked and one of them refused to just leave before the city guard got there. By the time they finished dealing with the cops, my heroine wasn’t about to leave town until she knew who was after her and why, which completely wrecked my plans for a chase-and-battles sequence as she and her friends made their way back to her mountain home. Instead, I ended up with a sort of medieval-urban fantasy.

I did work out the whole deck of Lyran fortune-telling picture cards at one point—all four suits, a set of Major Trumps and a set of Minor Trumps. (I really enjoyed making Taxes, one of the Minor Trumps.) Most of the cards never made it into the story, but I had a lot of fun figuring them all out.

About the same time as I was writing
The Raven Ring
, my publisher decided to reissue the first three Lyra books, and asked if I wanted to make any changes or edits.
Daughter of Witches
The Harp of Imach Thyssel
were in pretty good shape; I fixed a few awkward sentences, but that was about all.
Shadow Magic
was another story. The full manuscript had never been run through my critique group, and it showed. Furthermore, I felt that I’d finally learned enough craft to make it worth the time and effort to do a complete rewrite of my first novel. So I did, and I was much happier with the result.

Fast-forward a few years, to a mailing list in which a number of folks were discussing writing, editing, revising, and so on. One thing led to another, and I ended up sending the group a before-and-after version of the first chapter of
Shadow Magic
, so they could see what I meant when I talked about an extensive revision. A few years after
, I turned the before-and-after sample into a series of blog posts, showing the original text, my revisions, and my comments on what I’d revised and why.

When Open Road acquired the ebook rights, they asked me to edit the posts into an introduction to the Lyra series. Below is the latest version.

This is the first chapter of my first novel, Shadow Magic, which was first published in 1982 and then revised roughly ten years later for an omnibus edition. The strikeouts show words, phrases, and sentences that appeared in the original version but that I deleted on revision. The bold text indicates new phrases, and plain text shows what remained the same in both editions. My explanations of the changes appear in italics.

The caravan wound slowly through the woods along the riverbank and broke at last into the fields surrounding the city. Except for a few wooden shelters near the gates, the city itself was invisible behind massive walls. Not even the roof of a tower showed above the smooth grey stone.

Though they were now within sight of their goal, the dust-covered guards continued to ride restlessly up and down the long chain of wagons, watching field and forest narrowly for any sign of unusual activity. Travel here, at the western border of Alkyra, was relatively safe, but the Traders generally preferred not to take chances.

When the last of the wagons had entered the city, the guards relaxed at last. Their far-flung riding pattern contracted into small eddies of motion between the lumbering wagons. The iron-rimmed wagon-wheels were noisy, and conversation was minimal. The horses seemed to find the stone pavement, rough as it was, an improvement over the deeply rutted dirt road outside the city, and it was not long before the caravan had reached the wide courtyard of the inn.

As the last wagon in the caravan rumbled into the courtyard of the Blue Heron Inn, Maurin Atuval allowed himself to relax. Theoretically, the safety of the trade goods had been the responsibility of the cargo masters since the wagons passed through the city gates of Brenn, and the other caravan guards had long since abandoned any pretense of patrol. Unlike his fellow guards, however, Maurin was himself a Trader, and could expect to share in the caravan’s profits—and losses. So he had continued to watch the wagons even after his duties were officially over.

As it stands, there’s nothing terribly wrong with the original opening—it’s a “zoom-in,” starting with a long view, slowly focusing down until we get to characters. But for an action-adventure that moves fast enough to have a kidnapping by the third chapter, it’s too slow. Also, in the original, we don’t get to an actual character until the end of the fifth paragraph, and the whole thing is in a sloppy omniscient viewpoint. So the original five paragraphs went, replaced by two that are a lot more specific and that have a specific viewpoint, that of Journeyman Trader Maurin Atuval.

The hypnotic rumble of the wagons gave way to a cheerful bustle of securing goods and stabling horses. Everyone took part, from the most exalted of the Master Traders to the lowliest apprentices. As each finished his appointed task, he went in search of friends or pleasure, depending on his inclination, and soon the courtyard began to empty.

Among those remaining was a tall, black-haired man in the utilitarian leather of a caravan guard, his skin tanned by the sun and wind of the trails to a deep bronze under its coating of grime. The uniform suited him well, and he carried himself with an easy confidence that proclaimed him a veteran despite his relative youth. He was checking the ropes securing one of the wagons when another man hailed him. “Maurin!”

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